Barcelona keen on €36m Laporte to leave Manchester United clear on Hummels

Mats Hummels 2 Germany

Barcelona are seen as Manchester United's key challengers for Mats Hummels but may just have their sights set elsewhere.

Barcelona just like Manchester United are a team in transition, having appointed club legend Luis Enrique to shape the latest chapter in their storied history.

Just like United's departing duo of Ferdinand and Vidic, Barcelona have already said goodbye to a defensive stalwart in Carles Puyol, and a summer priority is to replace the former club captain.

Several names have been linked including Chelsea's David Luiz, but a name which has commonly cropped up is Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels, a key target for United.

Talksport claimed in March that Hummels even preferred a move to Barcelona due to being a fan of their style of football, but the Spanish giants may have alternate plans.

Reports in Spain this week claim that Barcelona are planning to sign Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao, after being impressed with his stunning season in La Liga.

Laporte, a 19-year-old Frenchman, made 33 starts for Bilbao as they clinched a Champions League place, and is regarded among the very best up and coming central defenders in Europe. Manchester United have been previously linked with him as have Bayern Munich.

He has a release clause of €36 million in his contract, a figure which may cause United fans to recall the club's unsuccessful pursuit of Ander Herrera. Barcelona are expected to have no such problems understanding the complexities of such terms should they as expected, push ahead with a deal.

This would signify the Blaugruna dropping any speculated interest in Mats Hummels, leaving the path clear for Manchester United.

The Red Devils still have to persuade him to quit Borussia Dortmund, but that will be a lot easier without Barcelona pulling him in another direction.

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch